Research shows that the early bird actually does catch the worm. Early risers are inclined to get better grades in school and experience more productivity, faster career advancement, less stress, and a feeling of greater happiness than their late-waking counterparts. Unfortunately, studies also reveal that your late-sleeping or early-rising inclination may be genetically hardwired.
About 1 or 2 in 10 people are natural morning birds, or Larks. Night Owls comprise roughly 2 or 3 in 10. The rest are Hummingbirds, arising early sometimes, late on other days, flitting back and forth between Night Owl and Lark status.
If your sleeping habits are predetermined by of your genes, is it possible to reset your biological clock? Sleep researchers have proven you can. To reap the many benefits of getting up early, try following these tips for a transformation from Hummingbird or Night Owl to morning Lark.
1 – Set a Waking Schedule… And Stick to It
Natural early risers get up at the same time every day, even on holidays or weekends. You should do the same. Your internal clock is just like a mechanical one. It can be programmed. You can’t change your natural sleeping and waking inclinations overnight, but you can do so over time. You may find yourself from time to time still staying up late, but regardless, don’t sleep in the next morning.
You have to aggressively set a waking schedule for early in the morning and stick to it. You may find this process difficult at first. Going to sleep earlier than usual could lead to sleepless nights of tossing and turning. If you find yourself tired in the mid-afternoon, treat yourself to a 20 or 30-minute nap. Only do this as long as your nap time doesn’t leave you foggy and drowsy.
2 – End Your Sleep with Sunlight
Night owls and hummingbirds can become morning larks by sleeping with their blinds or curtains open. When you let daylight awaken you naturally, this gentle process can help slowly reset your biological clock. You should still set an alarm, timing your alarm to go off when the sun rises.
3 – Go Outdoors Early in the Morning
As soon as possible after waking up, go outside. Take your dental floss or cup of coffee outside to add part of your morning process to this new routine. Exposing yourself to daylight in the morning helps make you alert.
You can trick yourself into getting up early by having someone set your clock ahead. Don’t watch them do it. This way, you don’t know if your clock is 5, 10 or 15 minutes fast. This gives you a small and simple safety net that guarantees you are up early enough to enjoy a morning outdoors. If weather or some other reason keeps you from going outside upon rising, head for the sunniest window in your home. As an alternative, you can buy daylight bulbs that effectively reproduce artificial sunlight.
4 – Kick the TV Out of Your Bedroom
You have to understand that your bedroom is for sleeping. This means removing your television, any electronics with LED displays, excess furniture, clothing, and any other items that don’t promote a sleep-friendly environment. Don’t kid yourself, saying that you are only going to watch TV for “a few minutes” before bedtime. Just 10 or 15 minutes of watching television, texting on your smart phone, or checking in on Facebook stimulates your brain and all of your senses. This makes it very difficult to fall asleep.
5 – Read a Good Book Before Bedtime
Reading somehow lends itself to sleep-promotion, unlike watching television. So does listening to soothing music. However, you should limit the amount of time you spend on either one of those activities. If you decide to read or listen to calming music before you shut your eyes at night, do it for the same period of time every night.
You will notice that routine and repetition are mentioned throughout these tips. That’s because your brain responds best to consistent and repetitive action when you are trying to break an old habit or adopt a new one.
6 – Prep for the Morning the Night Before
Night owls are usually rushing around in the morning because they hit the snooze button several times and are running late. You can help your early morning rising by making it relaxing and easy on your nerves. The night before, set out the clothes you’re going to wear the next day. Pack your lunch if you take lunch to work. Prepare your kid’s lunch boxes, program your coffee maker to go off automatically in the morning, and do as much as you can for your morning routine the night before.
7 – Use Mood Lighting at Night
Only use dim lights at night in your bathroom. If you have to answer the call of nature in the middle of the night, a blast of bright lights can make it difficult to go back to bed. The same is true for your pre-bedtime rituals. Brushing your teeth or removing your makeup should be done with minimal lighting, and the lighting you use in your bedroom at night should also be soft and sleep-friendly.
8 – Stop Hitting the Snooze Button
People who hate getting up in the morning tend to do it several times. That doesn’t make much sense, does it? A night owl is blasted awake by his morning alarm. He dreads the thought of getting up, so he hits the snooze button for 5 more minutes of rest. 5 minutes later, the alarm goes off again, and the whole feeling of hating to get up is repeated.
Morning people arise immediately upon hearing their alarm. You should do the same. You actually make yourself more tired and cranky by trying to catch several 5 or 10-minute snooze button naps before you decide to finally, begrudgingly get out of bed in the morning.
It will be difficult at first, but after a few weeks you will have programmed yourself to live without your snooze button. If this process means immediately enjoying a cup of caffeine-rich coffee in the morning so you can stay awake, that’s fine, but don’t overdo it with more than 1 cup.
9 – Use the “Inverted Snooze Button” Maneuver
Hey, it may be tough to give up hitting the old snooze button in the morning. If you just can’t help but slap mister snoozie in the morning when your alarm goes off, do this. Go ahead and hit the snooze button, but … get out of bed immediately.
This reverse snooze means mentally you are still not getting up and beginning your day. You are snoozing on your feet. Take this 5 or 7 or 10-minute period to make coffee, shuffle your feet and grumble, take a shower, whatever. Just don’t go back to bed, and definitely stay on your feet. When your alarm goes off again you should be awake enough to start your day.
10 – Eat and Drink Right
Proper nutrition is required for all aspects of health. It is also important for getting to sleep early, sleeping restfully, and rising early. Don’t eat or drink too much within a few hours of bedtime. The key is to hit the bed with a Goldilocks level of hunger and thirst – not too full, not too hungry or thirsty, just right. You should drink plenty of water throughout the day, avoid fast and processed foods, and eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and berries.
11 – Seek Professional Help If All Else Fails
If you simply can’t get to sleep before 3 or 4 in the morning, talk to your doctor or a licensed sleep therapist. The same is true if you could sleep every day until noon or later if allowed to do so. There is a condition called the Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome that affects a very small part of the population. No matter what you do, you can’t reset your biological clock without professional help if you suffer from this condition.